Q&A with Wendi Dass, Author of Bella Cigna

by Heather Caliendo
wendi dass interview - book club chat
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Wendi Dass is the author of Bella Cigna, which is available now. Be sure to check out my review and book club questions!

Wendi is a professor of Mathematics as well as a writer. Her interests lie in short literary fiction and novel-length women’s fiction. 

Here’s the synopsis for Bella Cigna:

Devastated by personal loss, Sarah Flynn escapes to Rome where she finds a job teaching English. Only the girls’ school is like a nunnery and she’s expected to speak fluent Italian overnight. What has she gotten herself into? While the beautiful sights rekindle her interest in art, not even her brush finding canvas can heal all the wounds she carries. She’ll need the help of a meddling nun, a nutty mathematician, and a handsome Italian admirer. Can Sarah overcome the insecurities born of a shattered marriage? Will she again take a chance on love?  

Let’s get to know Wendi Dass as she talks favorite novels, writing inspirations and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

I am a HUGE historical fiction fan so anything from Tracy Chevalier, Petra Durst-Benning, or Philippa Gregory are on my fab list. Among those books, I would say The Girl with The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is my all-time favorite.

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

Truth be told, I never really wanted to become an author. I’m one of those weird, creative types who wakes up with stories in her head. Eventually, I succumbed and started writing them.

What inspired you to write Bella Cigna

When I wrote Bella Cigna, I had a lot of memories floating in my head of living in Rome. I had also just given birth to my daughter and the talk between me and my friends often involved children or lack thereof. I suppose Bella Cigna allowed me to explore some of the heartache my friends experienced while trying to conceive.

Are any of the characters influenced by real people?

My characters tend to have snippets of traits from many people in my life. For example, Anna is a mathematician, which is clearly drawn from my experience as a math professor, however the rest of her personality couldn’t be farther from my own.

Tell me about the decision to set the story in Rome. Have you been to the city?

I only write stories in settings where I have spent a great deal of time. In my early twenties, I had the opportunity to live in Rome. I have traveled to many countries but that one really stood out to me at the time.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write?

My favorite parts to write were definitely the descriptive elements and the humor. That being said, I would say I probably had the most fun writing the scenes with Sarah and Anna gallivanting through Rome. The Piazza Navona scene and subsequent snafu in the Pantheon would probably top my list.

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

I’m currently reading Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais which is set in Apartheid-era South Africa. I have a ton of books on my TBR list, but I think after this heavy read I will choose something lighter like Weiner’s new release or a quick cozy. Then I’ll totally be all-in for another juicy historical fiction—I can’t get enough!

Click here to order Bella Cigna by Wendi Dass on Amazon. 

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